back to blog home

operations & Strategy


What Does an OBM Do… Actually?

May 7, 2024

Disclaimer: The below article might contain affiliate links. That means if you click on an identified link* and subscribe to the product or service, I might receive a commission for the referral. Quality and integrity are cornerstones for me, though, so you can rest assured that I’d never recommend anything I don’t use and love myself.

You might know by now that I’m a strategic partner and online business manager. (And if you didn’t know that — Hi! 👋 I’m Nicole, a strategic partner and OBM.)

But what does that actually mean? And how can you decide whether hiring an OBM would help your business? 

I find it’s most easily explained through examples, so today, I’ll give you a glimpse into my day-to-day client work as an OBM and strategic partner.

The 6 Strategic Pillars of a Successful Business

When I begin working with a new business management client, I walk them through my framework for setting goals and prioritizing strategic projects in their business. These are the different stages that businesses ebb and flow between regularly, and I call them the 6 Strategic Pillars of a Successful Business:

  • Systems & Workflow
  • Reach & Visibility
  • Customer Experience
  • Product Development & Innovation
  • Personal Development & Team Building
  • Growth & Scaling

(If you’d like to dive deeper and apply these pillars to your own business, grab my free Kick Shiny Object Syndrome to the Curb workbook.)

One of our first activities together is to review every facet of the business’s current state and make a list of potential projects. That list might include projects that are already in progress but not yet finished. 

We then use this framework to guide our decisions around what to work on next, what to put on hold, and what to say goodbye to entirely. 

A Day in the Life of an OBM: Systems & Workflow

There’s so much planning that goes into hosting a live, online event. For the past several years, I’ve helped The Happy Ever Crafter develop, plan, and host Workshop Week. It’s an annual virtual event where 40+ art instructors get together to teach a workshop in their area of expertise and attendees get to try new art styles and creative projects.

This is our fourth year hosting Workshop Week, and while it’s a massive project, it’s also as smooth as ever because of the systems, procedures, and tools we’ve created over the years. Our contracts only need minor updates, the software platforms we’re using to complete checkouts and to live stream the event have been tested many times over, the process of receiving pre-recorded workshops and instructor supply lists is validated, and every piece of the website that requires updates is tasked in Asana.

Because of all the work done in prior years, we’re able to spend more time improving our product instead of creating it. For example, this year we hired Nicole Yang Design to refresh our branding and create custom templates in Canva for our marketing and promotion. 

Putting on a virtual summit of this scale is a lot of work. But having systems in place significantly reduces the team’s stress and allows the client to spend her time on what she loves — bringing the online art community together.

A Day in the Life of an OBM: Growth and Scaling

You always hear that you should have goals in your business and revisit them often. In practice, though, time passes so quickly as a small business owner that you’re probably not likely to do either. That’s where your strategic partner comes in!  

As I’m writing this, Q1 is coming to an end, which means that it’s time to check on how my clients are doing: 

  • Are our projects on track? 
  • Did they perform well? 
  • Have any other concerns popped up in the last few months? 
  • Where can we improve?

Planning for the next quarter doesn’t mean having vague conversations about what my client wants to accomplish at our next meeting. It’s truly a deep dive into “the weeds” to identify, organize, and prioritize all the essential information my client needs to set clear, realistic goals that match their overall vision and available resources.

With my client Manager Method, I looked over the idea parking lot we’d created together and compared it to all the information from Q1: marketing metrics, sales numbers, client feedback, and more. Once I had all that data, I sifted through it and created a loose agenda of project ideas to discuss at our next meeting. I also provided that agenda to my client ahead of time so they had a chance to come up with any additional ideas to evaluate.

At the meeting, we divided the project ideas into Yes/No/Later categories. It was so much easier for the client to make those decisions because of all the work I’d done ahead of time to gather, organize, and present the relevant information. Instead of starting from square one, they could review all the essentials and make crucial decisions efficiently.

Once I had the list of “yes” projects, I went into Asana and created the project plans with timelines, big milestones, and major tasks to ensure the projects happen and the client can keep moving forward.

A Day in the Life of an OBM: Customer Experience

Recently, my client, Soul Degree, was looking for a way to allow his customers to stay connected after hosting their in-person retreats — beyond the hodgepodge of WhatsApp chats. He wasn’t looking to create a new product or program, he simply wanted to provide more value to his existing clientele. (If you know me well, you know I can shout from the rooftops about the importance of customer experience in your business, so a project like this is right up my alley.) 

As an OBM, you know you have a solid relationship with your client when they trust you enough to present you with a problem…without feeling the need to also have a solution at the ready. This client knew he didn’t need to invest his own time and energy in ideating solutions — I’d propose a solution or two (along with their pros and cons), and all he would have to do is sign off. 

In this particular case, I suggested he use the membership platform Circle*. So, I sent him an overview of how we use it in the Your Best Business Mastermind, and what it would look to implement it for his customers. Once he gave the green light, I started working on implementation — and his customers were enjoying their brand-new online community within two weeks.

A Day in the Life of an OBM: Product Development and Innovation

For the last six years, The Happy Ever Crafter has offered a free calligraphy program,  ShowMeYourDrills, where beginners can learn modern calligraphy from the very first pencil stroke up. The program is so popular that it has had over 250,000 students. Previously, it was a done-with-you 30-day program, but as more and more consumers have become interested in on-demand lessons that aren’t a strain on their time, we’ve decided it’s time for some change. 

Together, we created a sales funnel plan to convert the program into a 2-hour on-demand workshop so students can learn at their own pace. Shortly after they participate, they will be given the option to purchase a bundle of The Happy Ever Crafter’s calligraphy workbooks, which take the lessons even further — so they can learn how to create letters, then words, and, finally, develop their own calligraphy style. 

On this particular day, my task was to create a robust email planner to help my client see the journey her customers will take from the opt-in to the webinar to the pitch to the post-purchase. This includes an outline of who is receiving the message, when it will be sent, and what the overall theme of that message will be. (Learn more about the magic of email segments and tagging here.) 

As an example for this particular project, the outline laid out seven emails segmented by purchasers and non-purchasers, covering their calligraphy student journey from the free workshop to extra support videos through a paid bundle. Since Happy Ever Crafter is one of my long-term retainer clients, I was able to pull from past campaigns and promotions to create rough drafts of each of these emails, including a list of assets needed from my client, such as a welcome video or a zoom-in of a particular calligraphy technique. 

With the outline and assets I’m providing, all my client has to do is contribute her artistic expertise, and we’ll end up with a well-designed funnel perfectly aligned with The Happy Ever Crafter’s audience.

Hire an OBM to Support Your Business Goals

Now that you’ve seen “behind the curtain” of my job as a strategic partner and OBM, do you see ways your business could benefit from implementing any of these types of projects? Would it benefit you to have a partner like me to help you solve problems and discover new opportunities? Do you need help sorting through all your big ideas and choosing which ones to focus on? 
When you work with me, you’ll spend more time focusing on (and working toward) the big picture in your business. Schedule a discovery call, and let’s chat about how you can move forward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

stop throwing spaghetti around

get business operations  & strategy straight to your inbox

yes, please!